Retaining health care digital marketers

Health care needs shared leadership in marketing and IT to make the most of digital teams

This is part 3 in a 3-part series about the role of digital marketers in health care. Part 1 focused on why there is a shortage of health care digital marketers. Part 2 discussed things to consider when hiring and onboarding them.

Today’s digital marketers seek influence and impact. They have a clear idea of how their efforts can boost their whole team. They are motivated by the fact that, at the end of the day, their efforts are improving patient care. Turnover can especially hurt because many of today’s digital marketing drivers – content marketing, automation, social media, et al. – take a long time to develop, refine and measure.

Digital marketers tend to provide the most value through a combination of personality, strategic and technical skills. They are versatile, confident and adaptable. Their versatility comes into play by their understanding of business information systems and how to use those systems to take marketing objectives into the future.

The most successful way to retain digital marketers in health care is to align their opportunities with responsibilities that they find valuable and that help you achieve your core business objectives. Two of the most significant responsibilities for digital marketers are creating a company’s business technology agenda and the rise of the CDO.

Use Their Help to Develop Your Business Technology Agenda

Forrester Research coined the phrase business technology agenda in describing the convergence of prioritized tasks shared by marketing and IT:

“To deliver smarter experiences … marketing leaders must break away from the pack by working with their counterparts in the CIO’s organization to accelerate what Forrester calls the business technology (BT) agenda, a shared to-do list across roles for applying technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers.”

Predictions 2015: Most Brands Will Underinvest In Mobile
Forrester Research
November 2014

I have previously discussed the need for marketing and IT to merge tribes. Digital marketers can fast-track this initiative in health care as long as they don’t get mired in a tug-of-war between PR, marketing and communications teams. For some reason, large health care entities still consider digital marketing to be an internal land grab rather than a bridge to accelerated business growth. The sooner marketing and IT converge, the quicker companies can focus on patient care.

Use Their Insights as Your Chief Digital Officer

Add boardroom decision-making capabilities to the BT agenda, and you have the rising need for the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) position across today’s businesses. Susan Young of Ragan Communications explained that a CDO is not a glorified social media guru or community manager. It is a position that requires a rare combination of technology, executive business operations and organizational development.

Young listed five required competencies of the CDO:

  1. They must be comfortable as a possible successor to the CEO.
  2. They must act as agents of change and grasp the underlying psychology of consensus-building and conflict resolution.
  3. They must have board experience and solid communication skills.
  4. They must know how to set—and implement—sound business strategies.
  5. They must possess deep knowledge of technology, e-commerce, consumer behavior, and social media.

Health care companies must move fast to acquire this combination of senior-level experience. The talent pool is limited, with an even smaller group who actually want this responsibility. Global search executives Rhys Grossman and Jana Rich warn us that people considering a CDO position “may be reluctant to join established organizations, viewing them as old fashioned.”

Use Their Perspective to Propel Health Care Forward

Health care will only be a digital laggard industry as long as we let it stay that way. It’s time to change the status quo. Companies that are creating opportunities for digital marketers will be at the forefront of the surge to propel our industry forward.

We need shared leadership in marketing and IT, and our efforts to maximize our Web content, social media campaigns, mobile apps, email, automation, SEO and PPC are keys to success.

I hope you have found this series helpful. Please leave a comment below, on Twitter (@jaredpiano) or by email (